Health and the Internet--changing boundaries in primary care

Mary Malone, Ruth Harris, Richard Hooker, Tina Tucker, Nuttan Tanna, Sasha Honnor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Little is known about the frequency with which information from the Internet is presented by patients within primary care consultations or the subsequent impact that it may have on those consultations.

OBJECTIVES: The aims of this study were to describe the frequency with which Internet information was presented within primary care consultations in one inner-city health authority and to describe the characteristics of the subsequent consultation from the perspective of the health professionals involved.

METHODS: A postal survey was used to estimate the frequency of Internet information presentation and eight in-depth interviews were used to obtain health professionals' perceptions of the consultations that followed.

RESULTS: Presentation of information from the Internet was relatively infrequent within primary care at the time of the survey (November 2000 to March 2001), but frequencies of presentation were higher for GPs than for any other health professional group. Health professionals have stereotypical views of Internet users and fear for their own professional status in relation to the Internet-informed patient or client.

CONCLUSIONS: Although presentation of information from the Internet to date remains relatively infrequent, health professionals appear to feel threatened by it and adopt strategies that minimize its impact on the subsequent consultation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-91
Number of pages3
JournalFamily Practice
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2004


  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Great Britain
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Education
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Patient Participation
  • Physician's Role
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Primary Health Care


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